Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sworn to Believe

It's campaign season again. That can only mean one thing...people calling each other names on television! One of my favorite criticisms is that someone flip-flopped on an issue.

Wait a second. We're now attacking people because they learned something new and changed their mind?

What? Don't we spend countless hours reading, learning, growing, and evolving as leaders? If I change my mind on an issue at work is my boss going to accuse me of flip-flopping? Am I supposed to lock in my opinions for my entire life and never expand my world view? 

What if we built this philosophy into our leadership  development programs? It would probably sound something like this... 

"Good afternoon everyone. Today I need you to commit to all of your opinions on every issue and never change your mind again, despite what you may learn throughout your life. Here at Company XYZ we call that leadership." 
There is another side of commitment, and that has to do with loyalty. I am a huge believer in being loyal to the brand you represent. Brands are a reputation, are culture, are people, brands mean so many things.

However, loyalty to a person is something very different. The cult of personality that comes with pledging loyalty to an individual feels awkward in the modern world of work. 

I don't think I'm supposed to be loyal to a individual exclusively, am I?

I would certainly follow a dynamic leader to another organization; but I wouldn't follow them to a company I didn't believe in. See the difference? Respecting someone and enjoying the work you do with them is very different than pledging loyalty.

How About You
Do you consider yourself a loyal employee? Is so, are you loyal to your organization or to an individual? 

This may seem like a simple issue; yet for those that focus exclusively on "the face of the franchise" the real work of leadership quickly gets lost in all the noise.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Arise and Purify

Sometimes we find ourselves feeling...well... stuck. It often comes in waves. Work gets complicated despite our best efforts to add value...we miss more workouts than we should... and personally life seems a bit off track.

We feel low. I hate that feeling.

When was the last time you decided to stand up for yourself?  What was the tipping point that made you realize you needed to take action? Doing something, even what most would consider a small step, can do wonders for your mindset.

Don't let others define you. You know who you are and what you have done and will continue to do. Stay true to yourself. Lead with that attitude!

Once you've allowed yourself to focus on you, block out the noise from those who judge you unfairly. Create a plan to literally move yourself forward. 

Maybe that is a new way to manage your workload; maybe it is a transition to integrate technology into your world; or maybe it is time to find a new job that will meet your personal and professional goals.

Allow yourself the freedom to go for it. Recognize that you might feel nervous or afraid. That's okay. Allow yourself to be overwhelmed with the fear of an unknown future. That's okay too.

There is nothing wrong with fear. But there is something wrong with living a life where you never stare fear down and take control.

How About You
Today is your day. Not tomorrow, not next week, and for God's sake not during New Year's resolution season. Today. Arise and purify yourself.
I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The (Brand, Marketing, Digital, HR) Beast Inside of Me

I get fired up about work. Specifically, my work. I've had the privilege of being a human resources leader for many years; and the longer I work in that space the more opportunities I see outside HR that can dramatically improve how I get my work done.

More Than HR
In the early part of my leadership journey I couldn't get enough of good "HR" content. I was like a sponge soaking up every legal tidbit, compliance-related issue, or best-practice I could find. I was on a one man HR scavenger hunt. 

Sad, when I think about it now; but at the time it seemed like I was focused, driven and learning my craft. That may be true, but for the contemporary HR leader of today, the nuts and bolts of HR represent only a piece of what is important.

The energy around the term brand crosses many disciplines in the world of work, and HR is one of those that should embrace a brand strategy. Going far beyond a consistent logo on recruitment ads, a brand strategy that integrates organizational strategy with HR outreach (both personally and professionally) is essential. 

For those HR teams that still believe they should come up with their own strategies outside of what the corporate plan is are woefully ill-prepared to compete in the modern world. Gone are the days of separate "HR" and "PR" campaigns. The contemporary HR leader leverages the work done on the organizational-side and uses that to multiply the effectiveness of their brand strategy.

The breadth of terrific content marketing resources available today feels like finding buried treasure. That is, if you realize these resources are treasure! The strategies, tools, and opportunities to partner with your Marketing colleagues are more important than ever before. Scarce resources, and the ability to leverage similar content across multiple channels makes for wise leadership. But only for the savvy leader. 

Convincing yourself that "you can do it better alone" is not only a waste of's wrong too.

Every effective HR leader should now be comfortable in the digital world. Notice I didn't say "a" digital world...I see "the" digital world. Social media, web strategies, sharing content, building and supporting personal and professional brands, and adding value to the profession all happen in the digital space we live in.

There is no point to try and "get by" or "avoid technology" any longer. If you're not on board, you're living in the 1970s. Open a twitter account and get on with it. The time to move forward is now!

How About You
Has your approach to effective HR changed over the years; or, is the idea that "all this new fangled thinking" is just too much for you? It's never too late to get started. Expand how you think about contemporary HR, start making a difference in your organization and career, and let the beast inside of you break free.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Monday, October 13, 2014


“If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction.” 
 - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

When you think about where you are today...does it feel like you are on the wrong train? 

If so, what are you going to do about it?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Don't Tread...On the Brand!

Recently I walked into the building where my office is located, and one of our Security Officers stopped me to ask a question. She wondered why I step to the side every time I come into the building as the doors slide open? 

I thanked her for asking me, and explained there are rugs with the organization's name and logo printed on them at the entrances to every building, and that I refuse to step on the logo for any reason. I told her it's one of the ways I show respect for our brand.

All In My Head
I have been doing this little maneuver for a long time, but it is rare that any one notices. I've wondered if it is worth paying attention at that level...we have a lot of rugs with logos on them! What came to me next was quite surprising.

Even if no one ever notices my private sign of respect, I know I'm doing it. My consistent respect for the brand reinforces in my head each time how important the brand is and what it represents. It doesn't matter if anyone every notices. I know I'm doing it, which is a little jolt of energy around how important the brand is each time I step to the side.

How About You
What action do you take to ensure you respect your company's brand? 

As leaders, our personal and professional brands are interwoven to such a degree, that everything we do can make an impact. 

Using designated hashtags (like #ACHculture for me), re-posting or sharing company generated content, or writing in forums like this are just some of the ways we can represent our organizations and ourselves. 

What do you do?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Everything Is So Clear Now

The world of work can change in an instant. One minute life is on track, and then suddenly we're faced with a turn of events that we didn't anticipate. Or did we? How often have we heard the phrase "I never saw that coming." How is it possible that we don't see everything coming?

Eyes Open
Many organizations have gone through periods of massive change over the last few years. Post-recession alignments, acquisitions, and new leaders have triggered a flurry of different approaches in all aspects of corporate life. The savvy leader has paid attention to these changes and has been preparing for "the unexpected" twists and turns that naturally come during times of change.

The Head and The Heart
What often gets in the way of a full understanding of what is happening around us is the emotional connection we our work...our organization...our colleagues. Those emotions are important strengths that build culture and drive our companies forward. 

However, when there are simply too many changes to track at one time, it is also important to step back from the emotional energy that can cloud our vision, and think strategically about the impact of that long list of changes that is being implemented all at once.

Are you tracking each change? Are you connecting with and supporting other key leaders in the organization to ensure the changes are executed consistently and fairly? 

Have you provided candid feedback regarding your concerns, or is that not an option in the new world order?

The intentional decision to step back and critically examine the changes in your organization will help you be both thorough in your work, and fired up on the emotional side as well.

How About You
What is happening in your world? Are you examining the impact with both your heart and your head? Both will be important as you lead the way for your organization.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

My Most Productive Day...and a Fail

Recently I was at a surprise retirement party for a colleague. After we all yelled "surprise!" and the battle to keep the tears from falling was well underway, I settled into a conversation with a new member of our organization about the nature of work.

Our talk ran the gamut of shared experiences in cities we had both worked and/or lived in. But then quickly moved to how we get work done, and how the world of work has changed in such a way that being at work actually limits our ability to accomplish our work.

We both realized that the physical act of being in our workplace, more often than not, limits our ability to truly be productive. This got me thinking about all sorts of issues: 

- Why I spend so much time at work if I know I could use some of that time differently and be much more productive?;

- Why corporate culture equates long hours sitting in a room in a building (my office), with being a great leader and dedicated employee?

- Why I haven't been more assertive in taking charge of this (despite encouraging my team to spend time away from the office getting their work done!)?

Coffee, Wifi, and Solitude
As our conversation went a bit deeper I tried to remember what I would consider my most productive day ever. It didn't take long. I was in Baltimore on business, but my schedule was a bit odd. I had a Tuesday evening meeting, and then no formal commitments until Thursday.

Oh the guilt! I certainly couldn't fly back to Florida for one day, so I realized I needed to get myself organized to try to make the most out of an "open" day in between my scheduled meetings.

...and it was the most productive day of my life...

Enter The Daily Grind along Baltimore's waterfront. A terrific coffee shop that has good wifi and plenty of seating. I know what you're thinking..."Jay, have you ever heard of Starbucks?"  

The real issue here is that during my six hours of uninterrupted, focused time I accomplished more than I have on any other day in my work history. 

The real issue here is that I didn't seize the moment and build a completely different approach to my work, despite knowing this made sense for me.

The real issue here is that I quickly fell back into the trap that long hours in a room filled with interruptions equals  good leadership.

How About You
Do you know something makes perfect sense but the pressure around you in the workplace is holding you back from taking action? Why do we continue to do that to ourselves and our teams? Maybe we're the generation of leaders that will finally break the pre-technology notion that sitting in meeting rooms all day is the best way to get things done?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.